The Phoenix Suns may not be heading to the playoffs, but they surprised everyone at Disney World, going 8-0 in the eight seeding games during the NBA’s 22-team bubble setup.
For the first time since Steve Nash, the Suns actually have some real hope for the future. Not only is that great for Suns fans, but it’s great for Devin Booker, who signed a massive extension with the club and probably wants to start winning sometime soon.
But while Phoenix has some very talented young pieces like Booker and Deandre Ayton, it seems pretty clear that the club still has a long way to go before truly elevating into contender status in the Western Conference.
In order to do that, the Suns may need to swing a trade for another star to team up with Booker and Ayton.
Here are three players Phoenix should consider dealing for this offseason
3. Victor Oladipo
Trade rumors have been swirling around Victor Oladipo in recent months, namely because he and the Indiana Pacers are not at all close on a contract extension.
Oladipo has one year left on his deal at $21 million before becoming a free agent next offseason, so the Pacers may want to move him now before potentially losing him for nothing.
Of course, Oladipo is a big risk. He is a year and a half removed from a ruptured quad tendon that knocked him out for the entire second half of 2018-19 and caused him to miss most of this season.
He looked shaky upon returning in late January, but he certainly has shown flashes of his old self in the NBA’s bubble in Orlando (his 7-for-26 performance in a recent win over the Houston Rockets notwithstanding).
What we know about Oladipo is that, when he is right, he is one of the best two-way players in basketball. He legitimately plays both ends of the floor and does so at an elite level, and linking him up with Booker and Ayton could potentially cause havoc out West.
Both Oladipo and Booker have point guard skills, so the Suns could actually move Ricky Rubio in a possible deal for Oladipo and not worry all that much about ball-handling duties (the Pacers actually pursued Rubio in free agency last summer).
2. Ben Simmons
This one is pretty out there, but it’s worth mentioning.
Ben Simmons’ season recently came to an end when the Philadelphia 76ers star underwent surgery to a repair a knee injury he sustained in one of the club’s seeding games.
Now, the unorthodox floor general is the subject of trade rumors, just over a year after signing a lucrative $170 million extension with the 76ers.
Throughout the season, it became increasingly obvious that the Simmons-Joel Embiid duo was still not working as hoped, and Philadelphia’s lack of perimeter shooting made things even more difficult for the pair.
The Suns do not have that same problem.
Whether it’s Booker, Cameron Johnson, Dario Saric, Kelly Oubre Jr. or Mikal Bridges, Phoenix has a plethora of guys who can shoot from 3-point range, which should allow Simmons to slide in seamlessly.
Of course, the Suns would obviously have to move at least one or two of those pieces in a potential trade for Simmons, so they wouldn’t all be there, but Phoenix at least has a framework of outside shooting that Philly hasn’t possessed in a couple of years.
I’m not sure if the Sixers are seriously going to entertain the idea of moving Simmons this offseason, but if they do, the Suns are actually one of the spots where Simmons can actually fit.
1. Bradley Beal
Yes, Bradley Beal signed a short extension with the Washington Wizards back in October, but don’t be fooled: that does not mean he is untouchable.
The chances of the Wizards actually trading him are probably still slim, but if they receive a strong enough offer, they would be silly to not at least consider pulling the trigger given how dire the cap situation is between Beal and John Wall.
At first glance, Beal seems like an awkward fit next to Booker in Phoenix, but let’s keep in mind that both players have worked tirelessly on their point guard skills and have actually developed into solid distributors.
It is not crazy to imagine an offense that features Booker handling the ball and Beal playing 2-guard, or vice versa. Could the two players clash? Sure, because they are both alphas, but there is also the possibility that they could work really well together and form a pretty formidable triumvirate with Ayton.
Plus, while Beal isn’t a terrific defender, he is no slouch on that end of the floor when he puts in the effort.
If the Suns want to take that next step, calling the Wizards and inquiring about a Beal trade may be something the club needs to do this offseason.